My first attempt at sports photography. C&C please.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by cutsman, Aug 18, 2007.

  1. cutsman macrumors regular

    Jun 1, 2006
    I went to watch women's tennis yesterday at the Roger's Cup in Toronto. Up until now, most of my photos have been of static subjects, and trying to shoot sports has definitely posed quite a challenge for me, not to mention I felt that I needed longer reach than my 55-200mm VR could provide. I understand that sports photography typically requires very expensive equipment, but this is probably something I would do only once in a while, so I defintely am not looking to invest money into lenses strictly for shooting sports.

    I was also undecided about which AF mode was best suited for sports. I normally use AF-S for my other shots, which allows me to lock focus on the subject and reframe for the desired composition. With moving subjects, this proved to be very difficult. I tried AF-C, which from my understanding will continually refocus as I follow the subject with the camera. My problem is that by doing so, I lose the ability to properly compose a shot as it will always establish focus using the active focus point (in my case, the center focus point).

    Anyways, please let me know what you think of my shots and any tips regarding AF settings and such that will help me with shooting action shots. Thanks in advance.





  2. Kamera RAWr macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

    May 15, 2007
    I'm where I need to be
    All nice shots, good job. Although I must say that the last pic is my favorite :) Please keep them coming.
  3. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    The first rule of sports photography that I ever learned was that the key photos have two things, some times three.

    (1) The ball
    (2) The face or faces of the players
    (3) Team name, color, symbol, logo (but only sometimes)

    The second ones it good given the glass you have. Keep working it at it.

    p.s. loose the black and white with single color ball. That technique is only used when you want to draw attention to the colored object, when it should be the player.
  4. swiftaw macrumors 603


    Jan 31, 2005
    Omaha, NE, USA
  5. cutsman thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 1, 2006
    Thanks for the positive feedback, Kamera RAWr.

    Thanks for the tips Digital Skunk. I really do wish I had longer glass. The problem I faced was when the players were on my side of the court, their backs were to me. The only time I was able to shoot their faces, they were on the far side of the court, which I had trouble taking with only my 55-200mm VR. That combined with my AF issues and not knowing which AF mode to use meant a lot of my shots didn't turn out. I took about 140 shots yesterday and came out with only about 6 that i liked.... :rolleyes:

    As an aside, I also started to notice some serious vignetting at the long end of the 55-200 VR which I never had any real issues with before.... I think it must've been all the flat areas of colour on the court which made it much more noticeable....hmmm...
  6. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    The shots are good.

    Many people will disagree with this bit of advice–maybe yourself included–but I've always preferred images with sharp lines, frozen in time. While blur does give a sense of movement, I like the "cool" shock value with a sharp shot.

    Unless you're tyring to take interest away from the player (like for a tourny shot, not a player shot), lose the ball-coloring. Although some of those would be great just b/w.
  7. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
    Great first effort, keep up the good work ..... :)
  8. srf4real macrumors 68040


    Jul 25, 2006
    paradise beach FL
    Very nice shots...

    The blur of the racket in the first two was a little distracting for me, but I understand your desire to portray motion and energy in the photos. I was thinking maybe if you could capture the moment that the racket impacts the tennis ball precisely at least the ball would be in focus somewhat and perhaps not draw the eye to a blurry subject quite so much... or a little faster shutter speed but not too much (easier said than done, I'm sure!)

    I do some sport photography (strictly surfing) and I agree with other's wise rules... face and logo are of utmost importance to marketable shots, but artistically not neccessary at all. I think like a surfer when shooting surf shots, and attempt to capture the spirit and energy of the moment more than every precise detail, so timing is everything. I think you have done a good job of that.
  9. 840quadra Moderator


    Staff Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    I shoot Motocross, and sadly most of my work is done early evening, with the time span taking me well into the night. Light levels are usually low, and get worse as the time goes forward. I have found the following to be helpful for my stlye shooting.

    1) Fast shutter will help eliminate subject motion blur, and "stop" the action. You can dial it down a bit to get some blur in key areas, but most photos look great stopped.

    2) Try as much as possible to capture both the "cause" and the "effect" of your subjects actions. Sometimes one is more dramatic than the other, and capturing both will give you the option to use which is better. Having a fast burst mode on your camera will greatly help with these situations.

    If you decide to look into lenses for shooting more sports photography, I would like to suggest the following;

    1) IS or VR is an expensive toy that is not needed. Since you are going to be shooting something that is moving fast, the stabilization is going to do little or nothing for you. IS or VR will not take away subject motion blur (blur caused by your subject or other objects moving within your frame).

    2) Use the money saved by skipping IS or VR to buy faster lenses. For sports action, images shot with a lens that has a max or consistent f2.8 is going to look way better (okay okay not always) than images taken with a stabilized f4.0 lens, in more situations than you may even realize. You will be able to stop the action, get better background blur, and enough overall light for your subject much more easily. You will also be able to use lower ISO settings, and achieve much cleaner images.

    Here are some of my shots, not the greatest resize jobs (iPhoto does not resize well in my opinion). First two shots taken with a cheap 70-300 Tamron lens in really bright sunlight (or moderate shade), the last with a Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L lens on a hazy evening.




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